– The CEO is pregnant: Yahoo’s new chief reignites the can-we-have-it-all debate, with a twist (Washington Post, July 17, 2012):
NEW YORK — “Another piece of good news today,” tweeted the expectant mom, announcing to her online followers that she and her husband were awaiting a baby boy.
But this wasn’t just any excited mom-to-be. This was 37-year-old Marissa Mayer, the newly named CEO of Yahoo — obviously a huge achievement for anyone, but especially for a woman in the male-dominated tech industry. And she was about six months
Exciting news — especially for Mayer and her husband, of course — but did it mean something for the rest of us, too? Was it a watershed moment in the perennial debate over whether women can “have it all,” with the pendulum swinging happily in the positive direction?
Or was it, as some claimed in the inevitable back-and-forth on Twitter, actually a development that would increase pressure on other working moms, who might not have nearly the resources that Mayer does, in terms of wealth, power, talent and flexibility on the job?
Or was it even sexist to raise the question at all? Would anyone be saying anything if the new Yahoo CEO were an expectant father? No, went a frequent online thread: No one would even pay attention to that.
What was clear was that Mayer’s situation as a pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 company was not only rare, but probably unique. She becomes only the 20th current female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, according to Catalyst, an organization that tracks women in the workplace. It does not track pregnancies, but said it was not aware of other such CEOs who have been pregnant while in the job. And it’s clear that though some of those prominent female CEOs have children, they are older, and thus well out of maternity-leave territory.
Mayer herself, who left Google to take the new job, wasn’t speaking — tied up with her first-day responsibilities Tuesday at Yahoo, she declined interview requests, including one from The Associated Press. But on Monday, she told Fortune magazine that the Yahoo board “showed their evolved thinking” by hiring a pregnant chief executive, and that she planned to take only a few weeks maternity leave — during which she would work throughout.